Tony Ramos Kajukenbo
Creation of a New Fighting System
Kajukenbo was born from the streets of Oahu, Hawaii, in 1947 in a part of town known as the Palamas Settlement. This was considered the bad part of town, where brawls, stabbings, and muggings were the daily norm. Five young men, who were no strangers to this way of life and were experts in their respective fighting styles, collaborated to form a new fighting system that can defend against any street scenario. Sijo Adriano Emperado, founder of this new fighing system, contributed the hard hitting style of Kenpo. Clarence Chang’s contribution was Chinese boxing, also known as Gung-Fu. Peter Choo’s contribution was the empty handed style of Karate and his knowledge of western boxing. Joseph Holck provided the takedown attributes of Judo, while Frank Ordonez provided the joint lock aspects of Jujitsu. After many long months of training and numerous street trials, a new fighting system began to emerge, where Kenpo was at the core to which everything else was formed around. These five men, who later would form the Black Belt Society, named this new fighting system Kajukenbo.
Ka – Karate “empty hand”
Ju – Judo/Jujitsu “gentle way” and “yielding martial art”
Ken – Kenpo “law of the fist”
Bo – Gung-Fu (Chinese boxing) “skillful” or “hard work”
The years following the birth of Kajukenbo saw the rise of this newly formed fighting system evolve into four distinct styles: Original Method, Ch’uan Fa, Tum Pai, and Wun Hop Kuen Do. The Original Method, as its name implies, is the method named after Sijo. The other three are a result from early practitioners who evolved Kajukenbo into their own personal expression of this eclectic fighting system, incorporating various attributes from Chinese martial arts into these three styles. Several subcategories stemming from these four main styles have emerged in later years. One of the first was better known than the Ramos Method.
Beginning of a Legacy
Ahgung Tony Ramos was born on the Big Island of Hawaii. He began his training in Kajukenbo in 1950 with Joseph Emperado (Sijo’s brother) as his instructor. Then in 1960, after many years of hard work and training, Ahgung moved to California and returned to Hawaii and received his black belt from Sijo. That same year, Ahgung moved to Fairfield California. With a wife and four young children, Ahgung hoped his move to the mainland would find him a better way of life for his family.
Ahgung first settled in Gardena, California, where he opened his first school in 1960. Then in 1962, he moved to Fairfield, California, where he found a civil job as an aircraft mechanic at Travis AFB. That same year he opened his second school, the school we know today as Tony Ramos Kajukenbo in Fairfield.
Throughout the years, Ahgung collaborated with several martial artists, evolving his expression of Kajukenbo to what later would become known as the Ramos Method. At one point, he collaborated with Bruce Lee on several occasions, exchanging ideas and philosophies on self defense and against multiple attackers. However, one of the biggest influences to the Ramos Method came from Supreme Grand Master Cacoy Canete.
As part of his early teachings to his students, Ahgung taught Serrada, a form of Filipino stick fighting taught to him by Grand Master Angel Cabales. He later traveled to Cebu City, Philippines, where he was introduced to SGM Cacoy Canete, founder of Cacoy Doce Pares. Ahgung began his training with SGM Canete, who later promoted him to black belt. Ahgung was so impressed with the similarities he saw with the hand movements of Doce Pares and that of Kajukenbo. So much so was his impression of this form of stick fighting that in 1985, Ahgung implemented Doce Pares, thus making it recognized and claimed as the official form of stick fighting for the Ramos Method. After SGM CAcoy Canete moved to California Ahgung Ramos gave permission for GM Amiccuci to train directly
under SGM Cacoy. GM Amiccuci became a Senior Master *th grade in Cacoy Doce Pares and was inducted to the Doce Pares hall of fame.
After many years of civil service, Ahgung retired from his job and moved back to Hawaii. He transferred ownership of the school in Fairfield to his daughter, Simoe Leah, and son-in-law, and most Loyal student Grand Master David V. Amiccuci . Ahgung, a 10th Degree red belt/gold trim, continued to teach Kajukenbo in Hawaii. He later passed away in November of 1999 at the age of 69.